Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mindstorms EV3 is Go!

I have posted on Lego robot creations before. Well those were made with NXT 1 and 2. Now the new version is out in time for the 2013 holidays. NXT stood for "next" while EV3 stands for "evolution". And the EV3 does have several significant changes. In terms of looks, the EV3 is a little more geometric than NXT and a whole lot scarier! That Mohawk is intimidating!!! :-]

The EV3 has some new sensors. The old ultra-sonic sensor, which was known to be inaccurate (and I can testify that's true), has been replaced by an infrared sensor, which is promised to be more accurate and can also function as a remote receiver. Also there's a remote that you can program that sends signals to the infrared sensor/receiver. The color sensor hasn't changed, except for getting the updated look I described above. The number of touch sensors has been reduced to one, but I think it's a fair trade off for all the other improvements. Also one of the classic motors has been exchanged for a forward facing medium motor. There is a pretty obvious similarity between this new motor and the "power functions motor" that Lego sold with the original Technic sets. This new motor is very helpful for motorizing smaller attachments, where doing so with the bigger motors can be very awkward. The new intelligent brick has a higher resolution screen and a much better processor allowing for faster and more complex operations to be carried out. They've also changed the programming language/interface to make it even more visual!

Overall, the EV3 is pretty is pretty cool, but if you already have an NXT 2.0, I have to say don't bother. Really the only changes I find very important are the new motor, infrared sensor, and the higher power brick. And it costs $350 when you can get a used 2.0 for a lot less -- you're getting a used NXT for more than $300 you are getting ripped off by someone who wants an EV3 instead. If you have an NXT, you also might consider just buying the new motor and IR sensor. Here's a link to the official Lego Mindstorms page.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


"Phone face!" That may sound mean, but not to little Smartpet. To complete this robot dog from Bandai, you download the robot's app onto your iPhone, which you then snap into place. By using the Facetime camera, Smartpet can do tricks in response to your movements and gestures. It can also recognize voice commands, act as an alarm clock, and has over 100 facial expressions.  Originally posted on April 4, 2012.

Lego Segway

This awesome robot can stay upright like a Segway, but without using any gyroscopes. The secret to this design is a light sensor on the front that faces the floor. The robot detects when its distance to the ground increases or decreases and the wheels rotate to get it back to the right height. This is happening constantly while the robot is running. If you start it balanced, it stays balanced. If you start it off leaning forward or backwards it will stay at that angle and end up rolling forward or backward, in a controlled fall. Pretty clever!  
Originally posted on March 17, 2012. 

Lego Robot Makes Mickey Mouse Pancakes

This awesome robot can make a perfect pancake every time. One of the motors drives an air compressor that "pushes" the batter out of the ketchup bottles. The other two motors move the bridge to the correct position for the batter to come out. Here is the video: 
Originally posted on March 6, 2012. 


Robosapien is a remote control walking robot that can walk sideways, forward and backward. It also burps, can be programmed and moves it arms. It can also pick things up and then throw them (badly). There are three versions. I have the 1st, and it has always been fun to play with. What's really fun is to have two of them and have them do their demo dance in unison. My Robosapien is shiny chrome; others are white, and the newest version is red. Check out this cool video:

Originally posted on February 5, 2012. 


Tribot is another robot made by WowWee. Its base has 3 wheels arranged in a circle, and another set of wheels within each wheel; this makes it a very agile robot. It is remote controlled and can move forward, backward, sideways and even diagonally. It can be programmed, will tell jokes (constantly), and can also go off on its own detecting obstacles along the way. It can spin very quickly and is a neat toy. Here’s a link to the WowWee website:  
Originally posted on February 5, 2012. 

Aibo the Robot Dog

Aibo is a robot dog made by Sony. It can learn the name you give it and will run around with its little ball and play. It gets annoyed and lonely if you ignore it. It also can be happy, sad, and surprised. You can teach it new tricks with upgraded software and Memory Sticks. The downfall of such an awesome and high-tech toy is it costs about $1000 -- not something your allowance will likely buy you. Here’s a video of Aibo in action:

Originally posted on February 5, 2012. 

Robot Fish Save The Day

Engineers and inventors have always used ideas from nature, taking things from animals to make stuff for humans, so these fish are returning the favor. These little robotic fish help lead schools of real fish away from chemical/oil spills and turbines. At a glance, the small robots aren’t very convincing, but what the inventor says is so convincing to the live fish, is the robots' ability to swim so much like the real thing. This link has the full write-up:
Originally posted on February 4, 2012. 

110 FirstLook

The 110 FirstLook is a small throwable robot great for clearing buildings and reconnaissance in hostile areas. This little robot is absolutely rugged; it can withstand a 15 foot fall onto concrete and will survive in 3 feet of water. It can tackle an obstacle 8 inches tall and climb stairs. It is 10 inches long, 9 inches wide and 4 inches tall, and only weighs 5 pounds. It is very small, light and portable. Here’s a link to iRobot and a video:

Originally posted on February 4, 2012. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

510 Packbot

The 510 Packbot is yet another military robot from iRobot. It can locate traces of explosive objects, identify explosives, and disarm bombs. It can break into cars and operate in crime scenes, helping police as well as the armed forces. Traveling at 5.8 miles per hour, it is fast and is easily deployed and operated with a controller like one for a video-game. The Packbot can be equipped with an arm, a laser and a bright light. The Packbot is a great multi-purpose robot. Over 3,500 are already in use by military and civil defenses across the globe. Watch this neat video:  
Originally posted on February 4, 2012.